Six Evicted Boeng Kak Families Strike Land Deal

Six families that were evicted from the Boeng Kak lake community, including long-time activist Heng Mom, confirmed Wednesday that they had accepted a deal from Phnom Penh City Hall for plots of land and titles in the same neighborhood.

The families have agreed to plots of land measuring 4-by-18 meters in Boeng Kak’s Village 22, reducing to 40 the number of families still without land. More than 100 families were omitted from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s August 2011 plan to give land titles to the remaining families fighting eviction in the area.

Some 3,000 families in the area had by then been forced from their homes to accommodate a real-estate project by a ruling party senator.

“I agreed to the deal with City Hall because they swapped my land close to the main road when it used to be further away,” Ms. Mom said.

Ms. Mom had long ago separated from a group of Boeng Kak protesters led by high-profile activist Tep Vanny, and in 2012 promised officials she would vote CPP in the July 2013 election in return for titles.

The majority of former Boeng Kak residents who have yet to receive titles have declined City Hall’s compensation, saying the land on offer is not enough.

“We cannot accept the deal offered by City Hall because it is smaller than the land size we occupied before it was taken,” said Khy Ret, who lived in the area’s Village 1.

Another former Boeng Kak resident, Sen Touch, also declined the offer, claiming her original land measured 900 square meters. “[City Hall] said we lived on state land, but everywhere is state land. There will be no land for living if everything belongs to the state,” she said.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho welcomed City Hall’s efforts to settle the Boeng Kak dispute.

“However, it’s not right City Hall said they were evicted for living on state land. If they knew this land belonged to the state then authorities shouldn’t have allow them to live there,” Mr. Ath said.

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